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James' Adopted Children Give Harrowing Account of Abuse


James' Adopted Children Give Harrowing Account of Abuse

May 19, 2011|By Jason Lamb | Channel 2 News

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Two of the children that 50-year-old Anya James is accused of abusing told their stories to Channel 2 News and KTUU.com Thursday.

Police announced Wednesday that they had arrested James for 10 counts of kidnapping and six counts of first-degree assault, for subjecting six adopted children to physical and emotional abuse spanning more than 10 years.

Police said the abuse included confining the children to small rooms, armed with door and window alarms to notify James if they tried to leave, and forcing them to go to the bathroom using a kitty litter bucket.

Commenting on her adoptive mother's arrest, 21 year old Alice James said, "It's kind of a hard thing to explain because, I loved her, I thought. I thought she loved me, I thought she was the only person who cared about me, and then I slowly realized she didn't."

Alice says James was never married, and there was never a constant father figure living with them in the home.

Alice and her adopted sibling, Leeaster Collins -- who currently lives in Tennessee -- talked about the abuse that went on at the home.

Collins says she was never abused herself, because she says James was afraid of Collins' biological mother, but Collins said she had to watch the abuse take place for years.

Alice James and Collins talked about how they were forced to fill out page after page in "writing books," in which they would describe their feelings. If they didn't write enough, they would be punished.

Collins said the children in the home were constantly deprived of food.

"I've never seen them eat a full -- how we eat -- regular food. They always had a powermeal, an apple or orange or something like that."

Collins says a "powermeal" would consist of a variety of foods like oatmeal, refried beans, uncooked eggs and rice warmed together in a microwave.

"It was disgusting, it made me projectile vomit just sitting there looking at it," Collins said.

Collins moved out of the home in 2003, but kept tabs on her adopted siblings from Tennessee. She says about four years ago, she would hear from them that the physical abuse was getting worse.

"That's what really bothered me the most," Collins said. "It went from not just restraining and putting your body weight on them, but it was going to punching and slamming people into the wall. I was very worried."

That's when Collins says she notified the Alaska Office of Children's Services, the agency that oversees adoption in the state, but Collins says the complaint got nowhere.

"I guess they supposedly sent someone out there, when I talked to Alice, Alice said Anya had some bogus story or whatever and it was so convincing they didn't even take the time to go in and check," Collins said. "They believed Anya and walked away."

"They interviewed us all in front of each other, with Anya right there, and they expect us to say something?" said Alice James. "Of course we couldn't say anything."

Alice James moved out of the home in 2009.

The two adoptive sisters say that James is lying to Rex Butler, her defense attorney.

On Wednesday, Butler commented on what the police called "kitty litter buckets" that the kids were allegedly forced to toilet in.

"The honey buckets were optional for those who felt like they didn't want to go to the bathroom," said Butler. "It was no requirement to use them."

"They'd say, 'I need to go to the bathroom,' -- but they didn't get that," Collins said. "They stayed in that room and they peed and they pooped in that honey pot, until Anya was ready to come and get them, so that's a lie."

In response to the children becoming what the police called "extremely malnourished," on Wednesday, Butler told Channel 2, "Ms. James is a vegetarian, and she raised her family as vegetarians as well, so its not a situation where she's not feeding them or giving them adequate food."

Alice James says she continued to be a vegetarian after she left the home in 2009.

"As a vegetarian on my own, I still wasn't starving, I actually gained weight, so his statement there doesn't make sense."

"I'm just hurt, more than anything," said Collins. "I want her to figure out why she did what she did, because it was not OK, we've been through enough in our lifetime not to go through all this."

2011 May 19